Life Lessons for Garbage Man Joe & Why We Spend our Time Pulling Out Trash Cans

In February 2012, Joe started his own little Garbage Can Curbside Service.  He asked our neighbors if he could roll out, and then back in, their garbage cans on trash day. In return, they would pay him 25¢ each week.

This job started because Joe was asking us how exactly we “made” money while sitting at our computers all day.  We decided we needed to show our kids that money is earned when you market your skills, get a job and work hard.  And it’s not “made” from the printer in our office.  To learn more about how it started, go here.

This job does take some commitment from the entire family because the kids are just too young to be running through the streets of Houston unattended.  Each week we head out with Joe (5), Brooke (3) and James (1) to do the job.  The question we get as parents is, “Why do we spend our time pulling out trash cans?”.

That’s easy to answer.

Like everyone else, we are busy.  We have 2 full time jobs, 3 kids and more volunteer commitments than we should.  We want to be good parents, but sometimes we are just plain tired.

This trash can job has turned into an easy way to automatically teach our kids life lessons.  We do not need to plan out any topics or discussion.  The lessons just happen.

Through the job, the kids are learning to be reliable.  They know that 8 neighbors depend on them to get their trash out to the street each week.

They are learning that you cannot just quit.  It might seem like a good idea when you are tired, but you must think through your decisions.

They are learning that hard work brings you recognition.  That neighbors value your contributions and other kids look up to you.

They are also learning the value of money.  They know that 4 quarters are in a dollar.  They know that an ice cream bar is 6 quarters and that a Lego fire truck is more like 200 quarters.  They also know that they are in charge of the money made from the trash can jobs, and with this power, they have made some good financial decisions all on their own.

Joe has been doing this job for 13 months and has no plans to stop.  His sister, Brooke, is nearly 4 and will likely become his partner, allowing them to expand the business to more houses on the block.

So, is this job worth the hassle of rounding up the kids, convincing them to stop their games and projects, marching our parade down the sidewalks and handling all the neighborhood trash cans?  Yes!  It’s the best accidental parenting we’ve done yet.


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